I was born in Cullman, Alabama in 1969. My parents are Tom and Joyce Abbott. I began hearing the gospel message of Jesus Christ at an early age. My parents were faithful to take us to church in the early days of my life. My grandfather, the late W.A. Wood, was a Baptist evangelist for over 50 years. As a young boy he would take me along with him to Old Time camp meetings and tent revivals in the backwoods-country of middle Alabama. He was my hero as a young boy. In the mid-1970’s, during what started as a two week tent revival the people of the area felt they needed to plant a church there at the revival spot. Land was donated and Neighborhood Baptist Church was birthed. I wanted to be a part of what was going on so I said I wanted to join the church and I got baptized. I’m sure you are thinking when did you get saved in order that you could be baptized. I had not yet been saved. I wish I had an answer as to why no one took the Bible and showed me the proper order for church membership and had shown me then as a 7 year old little boy how to be saved.
For years, I thought I was saved but as I got older and my folks moved to Horn Lake, Mississippi, a small bedroom community to Memphis, TN, I soon realized there was something missing in my life. At that time a large Southern Baptist Church, Broadway Baptist Church, in Memphis had a Monday night teen outreach and would run a bus through our neighborhood and pick up anyone 12 and older that wanted to attend. I remember one night very clearly how the gentleman preaching shared the plan of salvation and that you couldn’t get to heaven by being baptized, by being good, or by any other way than through the blood of Jesus Christ. Conviction fell upon my heart and I knew I needed to be saved. He asked, “If you need to be saved would you lift your hand,” and I did. He prayed and then rushed everyone out of the building and back on to the bus to start the trip home. While on the bus one of the adult Lady workers came back to where I was sitting. She was very nice and genuine and wanted to talk with me about my salvation, but it was very awkward. Everyone around was staring and laughing and people were talking. I told her I was a sinner and I had been baptized but I knew I wasn’t saved. She asked me to pray and accept the Lord and I did as she asked. However, my prayer was not a prayer of repentance but a prayer of convenience. I knew that if I prayed this prayer she would go away. Once again I thought I had settled my salvation.
When my parents left Alabama in 1977 we were not very faithful to attend church. My Dad worked long hard hours and often Sunday was a day for him to catch up on his rest. Although I had made what I thought to be a decision to follow the Lord not attending church regularly did not afford the opportunity to grow. This became evident in my life as a teenager as I became a silent rebel. I didn’t have long hair, ear rings, listen to hard rock music, or even disrespect my parents and other authority. I was clean cut, played varsity football and baseball, worked in the front office of my high school, and was the vice-president of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. In front of authority I was a good student but out of site away from school and parents my life was wicked, just take my word for it, I was wicked.
In 1988, while attending Northwest Mississippi Community College a friend invited me to attend church with her. That friend is now my wife, Diana Baker Abbott. We visited several different churches but none seemed to be what we were looking for. Then one Sunday we decided to stop at a little Church that seemed to have sprung up out of no where, Goodman Road Baptist Church. I heard a Pastor, Charles Rice Sr., preach with passion and conviction. We went back and back and then back again. God was actively working in my life and Diana’s as to the authenticity of our salvation. I prayed over and over, “God if I’m not saved, save me.” I even told the Pastor that I had prayed and accepted Christ in my dorm room one night. He told me I needed to be baptized. He explained, although I had been baptized before I wasn’t saved and that baptism was only for those that had truly accepted the Lord first. I submitted and was baptized again in 1988. Funny thing though, I went back to all my friends in the dorm, and on the college baseball team and told them I had gotten saved the previous night. I couldn’t do the things I had been doing anymore, but I hadn’t gotten saved the night before I had gotten baptized.
It wouldn’t be until 1990 that all of this would come to a head. We had been faithfully serving God in our church. We were there for everything but God began to show me that I had not really trusted in Him but that I had been trusting in me. Finally, one night while having my personal quiet time with God, I settled it. I admitted to God I was a sinner, I couldn’t save myself, and that only He could do that through the Lord Jesus Christ. I asked Him to forgive me of my sin and to give me eternal life. I later went to the Pastor and told him what had happened and once again I was in the baptismal pool but this time it was for real “BELIEVERS BAPTISM.”
I hope reading this long narration of my testimony hasn’t been a bore to you. I realize that today there are people sitting in our Independent, Fundamental, Baptist churches that don’t have eternal life and for whatever reason they refuse to do anything about it.
Dear reader may God give you the strength to admit you have never been saved and the humility to bow before Him and accept His Son as your true Savior. Then take the next step and make it public. Present yourself to be baptized into believers Baptism. You never know who might get saved because you took the step to secure your own eternal home in heaven.